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When you’re a social media consultant, you can tell right from the start if your client is worth pursuing or not. I use a simple assessment sheet, with very simple questions in order to determine if the client will cooperate. Some of these questions might look stupid, but it really helps in determining the level of social media knowledge of the client, and how willing they are to cooperate with the strategy.

Adrian Smith (@AdrianHSmith) and I had a client meeting once, and gave this assessment to the client. He told me it was a stupid questionnaire, and I should be the one answering these questions for him, not himself. I knew from that point forward that it was not going to work out between us, as he was not open to ideas (which is important in social media). The more the meeting went on, the more I understood it wouldn’t work out. This client didn’t want to do anything himself (collaboration between the consultants and him), wanted the consultants to do all of the work, including video production, social media management, etc. He also wanted everything to be run by him for approval, and didn’t want to pay much. I fully understand that some things, like a video production, should be run by him for approval before sending it out to public. However, he also wanted every content piece that we shared to be run by him for approval before it was scheduled to tweet out, which we all know could never happen. He was not open to trusting others with his brand image. This can translate to: he was simply not ready to open up his brand to his customers on social media.

I had another client in the past that had similar remarks. It took a while for the consultants to educate the client about social media management, however it never fully worked out. Why? Because the client never fully accepted the strategy from the start. Six months after our first proposal, the client asked why we didn’t have a blog yet. We told them it was in the original proposal, but they never accepted it (even though we would mention it on a regular basis). The client ended up cutting the social media budget after about 8 months, because they didn’t get the results they had asked for. However, they never fully accepted the strategy, so they never could have gotten the results they asked for.

Not everyone is cut out for social media. Not because the company’s customers aren’t using it, because the customers are on there (whether you are or not). It’s because internally, the person in charge is simply not ready for change. If the person asking for social media help is not ready to cooperate with the social media consultant, it’s simply not going to work out. There’s a world of opportunity out there on the web, waiting for everyone to take a grasp. However, that opportunity comes at a certain price: Relinquishing control over the brand.

Let me ask you this: Why do you even bother asking for help from a social media consultant, or any consultant rather, if you don’t want to hear their ideas? I understand that there is a certain level of collaboration that needs to happen between the consultant and the client, but at some point, there has to be cooperation from the client. You, the client, want help with your digital strategy. Why? Because you don’t fully understand how it works, and where to start. So if you’re asking for help, why aren’t you open to receiving it? After all, the consultant is supposed to be the expert on strategy building, don’t you think?

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